The soul is first and foremost a being filled with longing

The soul is first and foremost a being filled with longing. It is filled with sympathy and antipathy, with the world of wishes, of desire. After some time however, the spirit reveals to the soul that it comprises more than only desire. When the soul, led by the spirit, has overcome the longing, then she is not passive, then love flows from the evolved soul, in the same way that longing flows from the undeveloped soul. Desire and love, these are the two opposing forces between which the soul develops. The soul still trapped in sensuality, in outward appearance, is the soul filled with longing; the soul that that has evolved its relationship, its harmony with the spirit, is the loving soul. That is what leads the soul on its path from incarnation to incarnation, in that it evolves from being filled with longing and desire, into a loving soul whose activities become actions of love.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 52 – Spirituelle Seelenlehre und Weltbetrachtung – Berlin, March 8, 1904 (page 347)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on May 4, 2017

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The feeling of gratitude is underestimated these days

Nowadays, the feeling of gratitude is underestimated. Gratitude connects people with the world, makes them feel part of the world. If one guides the child in such a way that it can develop gratitude for even the most unimportant or trivial things it meets in life, then that child does not close itself off from the world in egotism, then it becomes altruistic, it feels itself to be a part of the environment. […] And when one has imparted to the child the feeling of gratitude, then one will realise that the basis for moral education has been planted. Because if one has taken care of this feeling of gratitude and gratitude is experienced as compatible with all knowledge, then the feelings of the child will easily be penetrated by the love that the human being must have for all the rest of humanity and ultimately for all the creatures of the world. One can develop love in the best possible way through gratitude.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 297a – Erziehung zum Leben – Selbsterziehung und pädagogische Praxis – The Hague, November 4, 1922 (page 159-160)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on December 1, 2017

There is a hundred times more hatred than love among human beings

In perceiving the sequence of earthly lives one also learns to understand what streams from the present into the future. Men who are capable of intense hatred carry over into the next earthly life as the result of this hatred the disposition to be hurt by everything that happens. If one studies a man who goes through life with a perpetual grudge because everything hurts him, makes him suffer, that is what one finds. Naturally one must have compassion for such a man but this trait in the character invariably leads back to a previous incarnation when he gave way to hatred.

Please do not misunderstand me here. When hatred is mentioned it is natural for everyone to say: “I do not hate, I love everybody.” But let them try to discover how much hidden hatred lurks in the soul! This becomes only too evident when one hears human beings talking about each other. Just think about it and you will realise that the derogatory things that are said about an individual far outweigh what is ever said in his praise. And if one were to go into the true statistics it would be found that there is a hundred times — really a hundred times — more hatred than love among human beings.

This is a fact although it is not generally acknowledged; people always believe that their hatred is justified and excusable. But hatred is transformed in the next earthly life into hypersensitiveness to suffering and in the third life into lack of understanding, obtuseness traits which make a man hard and indifferent, incapable of taking a real interest in anything.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 239 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume V: Lecture II – Prague, 30th March, 1924

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Previously posted on October 22, 2017

Moral impulses/Empathy towards others/Pre-earthly existence

Human morality is based upon – when it does not consist out of mere words or fine speeches or out of intentions that are never realised –  the genuine interest of one person in the other, on the ability to truly see another person.

The human being who can empathise with others will, out of this understanding of other people, display social-moral impulses. One can also state that such a person has attained the moral capacities in this earthly existence in pre-earthly life, accomplished from living together with the gods and keeping the urge, at least in the soul, for such a living together on earth. And this shaping of such a living together, enabling one person to accomplish their earthly tasks together with others, that alone in reality forms the moral life on earth. So, we see that love and the effects of love, morality, is solely the result of what the human being experienced spiritually during pre-earthly life.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 219 – Das Verhältnis der Sternenwelt zum Menschen und des Menschen zur Sternenwelt – Dornach, 15 December 1922 (page 62-63)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on September 12, 2017